Craig Calcaterra

Cuba

Two Cuban players defect during the Caribbean Series

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Jorge Ortiz of USA Today reports that two players on the Cuban national team, playing in the Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico, have defected. The players: shortstop Dainer Moreira and pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez.

Neither are thought to be elite prospects. Moreira is 30 and Gutierrez, while only 19, is not a hard thrower. Given his age and early success, though, Gutierrez is thought to have major league potential.

Derek Jeter explored buying the Buffalo Bills last year

Derek Jeter AP
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Derek Jeter is such a dedicated champion and winner that, last season, he attempted to work his greatness on not just one New York franchise, but two!

Two sources have informed me that Jeter, while playing his farewell season with the Yankees, explored purchasing the Bills when they were for sale last year.

Uncertain is whether Jeter wanted to lead a group or be a minority partner. But given the Bills eventual, record-breaking sale price of $1.4 billion, he likely would have needed to settle for shareholder status.

Meanwhile, A-Rod was seen with a real estate brochure in his bag, leading some within the Yankees organization to anonymously voice their displeasure at his lack of focus. Then Clay Buchholz was seen at a charity function. His remains have still not been found.

Josh Lueke signs with a team in the Mexican League

Josh Lueke
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Marc Topkin reports that former Rays reliever Josh Lueke has signed with Delfines del Carmen of the Mexican League.

Lueke has been a below average relief pitcher for several years, pretty perpetually on the shuttle to and from the bigs and Triple-A. He is far more famous for once having pleaded down sexual assault charges to a false imprisonment with violence conviction and subsequently serving 42 days in jail. And for having all of that come into a more public light when one of his employers claimed not to know about his criminal past when trading for him. A claim that was not exactly credible.

As a baseball player, Lueke has been pretty worthless. As a human being, less so insofar as the acts for which he is known. He has, however, formed the basis of some pretty good discourse about just how how poorly we as a society have dealt with rape as a crime, how we have treated some rapists as something less than criminals and how we have done grave disservices to rape victims as people suffering from trauma. An excellent bit of that discourse on that can be read here.

Happy trails, Mr. Lueke.

Ned Yost developed an app to teach baseball strategy

Ned Yost
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On the one hand, Ned Yost is the manager of a pennant-winning ballclub. On the other hand, he’s a guy whose specific strategic decisions can be so head-scratching that his name has been turned into a verb that serves as a synonym for “bad decision.” In light of that, this is all kinds of fun: Yost helped develop an app during the offseason designed to teach baseball strategy.

In this case it may be OK, though, as it doesn’t test bullpen choices. Rather, it’s about choosing which base fielders should throw to in various scenarios. Yost is probably pretty good at that. My memory of him as the Braves’ third base coach was such that he was pretty good at knowing when to send runners and stuff, and knowing how to do that depends a lot on knowing how fielders are going to respond.

Still, it’s kind of sad. Because an app in which you choose a relief pitcher, only to have the disembodied head of Yost appear and say “Are you sure you want to call on him? It’s the sixth inning and he’s your . . . Seventh Inning Guy” would be the best thing ever.

The eighth greatest general manager of all time is, like, the fifth dude on this list connected to the Orioles

orioles logo
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Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

If you came of baseball-watching age sometime between the late 1990s and, oh, three or four years ago, you can be forgiven for thinking that the Baltimore Orioles are a perpetually messed-up and dysfunctional franchise. Yes, they’ve righted the ship just fine since Dan Duquette has been there, but before that, hoo-boy, things were a mess.

If you’re older than that, though, and if you paid attention to baseball between the late 50s and the late 80s, you know that the Orioles were, for decades, the Gold Standard for how a franchise should be built and run. Which makes the fact that this top-25 list Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have put together contains a boatload of executives who either got their start, made their bones or completed their legacies while working for the Baltimore Orioles make all kinds of sense.

The latest — and not the last, if I have the top-10 guessed properly — is one Harry Dalton. Go learn about him here.